Every story on this page is true. These pets all survived terrible ordeals and they suffered. Every hero was someone like you. They could have turned away, but they didn’t; they stepped up. You can too; you are stronger than you know. Many of these stories are written by the hero and sent to us. All of the photos were provided.
Rescuing an Angel
I once told a friend I would miss an airplane to save a dog. I had no idea it was going to become a reality until March of 2011.
I was visiting my 85-year-old mother in the Phoenix, AZ area. We were driving west on I-10 one late afternoon. Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed what I thought was a white dog leaning against a cement noise barrier wall about 30 yards from the freeway. We could not stop as we were in rush hour traffic on an inner lane of the 6 lane freeway. We were surrounded on all sides by cars moving so fast that I was unable to exit for several more exits.
We drove to a truck stop, purchased rope and chicken, and drove back to the area. The white dog was still there in the same position. I was concerned she was injured and I saw she was not wearing a collar. I did not want to approach her from the freeway side as I was concerned she would run. Fortunately I located a dirt access road that traced the top side of the wall. We parked there, and I got out and peered down over the side of the wall to establish her location as I wanted to be downwind from her. I knew the chance of her smelling me was greater than the chance of her hearing me due to the roar of the traffic.
I made a noose out of the nylon rope and smeared chicken on it so it would smell like chicken, not me. I peeked over the side of the wall to see what she was doing, then dropped a piece of chicken near her. She ate it. I continued dropping pieces of chicken to distract her as I began lowering the noose down the side of the wall. I was concerned she would become startled and run into traffic if I didn’t capture her on the first try. I got the noose over her neck the first try!
She just looked up at me calmly. It was obvious her left rear leg was injured since it was dangling from her hip. Her rib cage and spine were protruding from her emaciated body. She had an open wound on her hip and a black tire mark on her forehead.
I stood on top of the wall holding the rope with the dog attached, trying to decide my next step. This apparently was worrisome to a kind passerby, Janet, who thought I was going to pull the dog up the wall by her neck. She exited the freeway and made her way back to us, parking below the wall near the dog. I could hardly believe my good fortune. We discussed options for helping the dog—and then a policeman pulled in behind her car. He told us the dog would be euthanized if we took her to the county shelter as there would not be enough money in the budget to repair her leg. We could not bear the thought so we decided to save this dog ourselves.
The policeman gently picked up the dog and carried her to Janet’s car. Fortunately she did not resist or try to bite the policeman. Janet agreed to foster the dog overnight so Mother and I followed her to her home to help set up an appropriate place. The dog settled right in and was very thirsty. We were concerned she was deaf because she was so quiet and acted as if she could not hear us. We later determined she was likely in shock.
Since we obviously did not know the dog’s name, it was time to pick one. Janet chose “Angel” which seemed especially appropriate.
The next morning I returned to Janet’s home for Angel. I took her to a veterinary clinic and first had her scanned for a microchip. She did not have one. The veterinarian took radiographs and determined Angel had a dislocated hip. I contacted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Martinez, at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, WA for an Arizona referral. He directed me to an excellent surgeon in Scottsdale, Dr. Stephen Gilson. I called him. I could hardly believe our good fortune that Dr. Gilson would be willing to perform surgery the next morning, a Sunday. He generously offered a discount even though I had not asked for one. The surgery would cost $2,000 to $2,500.
The next morning after I took her to Dr. Gilson’s clinic, I went to work on the rest of the “saving Angel” details. I contacted my rescue friends in Washington. Amy, my pet detective friend, searched Craigslist for her family but did not find them. She also called an Arizona pet detective to see if anyone had been contacted about a missing dog like Angel. The pet detective had not. “Rescue Robin” helped by contacting Penny Eims, a wonderful reporter who writes interesting stories about needy dogs. Amy set up a ChipIn account for “Angel the freeway dog.” Thanks to Penny’s story on www.examiner.com and the ChipIn account, donations started coming in from across the nation. It was unbelievable how many cared about the emaciated white dog with the dislocated hip and a black tire mark on her forehead.
Angel was going to need to be on leash for 4-6 weeks post-surgery. I had to decide what to do with Angel once I picked her up from the veterinary clinic. I did not have any rescue contacts in the Phoenix area and was unable to locate one on such short notice. So, I decided to take Angel back with me and foster her through her recovery. I knew it would not be a good idea to fly her home with me. The only solution was to cancel my flight, rent a car, and drive home. The one-way car rental was going to be expensive, in the $700.00+ range. It would take a full 3 days to drive 1300+ miles north to Washington state.
Angel stayed overnight at the clinic after her surgery. The next morning I bid my mother farewell, picked up the vehicle, and drove to pick up Angel. Fortunately it was a small SUV so I was able to put the seats down creating a large area for her to rest comfortably. I placed blankets everywhere for Angel to rest on and to keep the car free of dog hair. At the clinic, I learned the surgery was even more successful than initially hoped for. Instead of performing a femoral head ostectomy, Dr. Gilson surgically manipulated the ball of her hip back into the socket. The vet tech brought Angel to me and provided discharge instructions. The clinic did not sell microchips, so she would get that at home. He loaded her into my car and our journey began.
Our first stop was a pet supply store to buy an identification tag, collar and leash. I included two telephone numbers on her tag as a precaution for traveling with a dog who had been a stray—I had no idea if Angel was an escape artist. While traveling with Angel, I was careful to never open any door unless she was tightly leashed. I knew it is very common for newly-adopted dogs to bolt through open car and building doors and escape. Looking back, I should have purchased a martingale style no-slip collar so Angel could not back out of it.
This was going to be a big adventure for both of us. It turned out Angel was the perfect little traveler and a wonderful companion for a road trip. The weather was excellent, the roads were great and the scenery was beautiful. I did not eat meals in restaurants as I did not know if Angel would damage the car interior while unattended. I was also concerned about the possibility of dog theft and the warm temperatures outside.
We met rescue friend Cheryl in Milton Freewater, OR, on our last night. Cheryl wanted to meet the freeway dog who she had been reading about on our “Saving Angel” group email exchanges. Cheryl brought cheese to make Angel’s pain medication more palatable; I had run out.
Angel and I finally made it home a couple of hours later, around midnight. The next day I drove another 75 miles to return the car to Spokane, WA. Much to my surprise, the on-site manager of National Car Rental, generously deducted 25% off my bill. Rescue friend Bernice in Washington state had contacted the Spokane media prior to our arrival. We were interviewed by reporters from KXLY and KHQ television stations before returning to our home. Angel didn’t seem to mind all the fuss and attention.
Devin Rokyta, a reporter with the “Moscow-Pullman Daily News,” wrote a front page story about rescuing Angel. His mother in Texas was so touched after reading it that she sent a handmade fleece vest for Angel.
Angel has recovered nicely. Her gait is perfect. It turned out there was a little athlete inside that body. She can now run like the wind. She is a good girl, silly, sweet-natured and she obviously loves our other dogs and cats. She also accompanies me to work each day. I have looked into permanent homes for her but have not located the right one quite yet.
It obviously took a village to make Angel’s rescue possible. My rescue friends and others previously unknown to me assisted and encouraged me every step along the way. Their support made all the difference in saving Angel. As far as my mother goes, this was not the first rescue mission she has accompanied me on, nor will it likely be the last.
—Carmel L. Travis in Washington
Note: Angel is alive today because of the Good Samaritan who rescued her at great personal cost and inconvenience. For her inspiring efforts, Carmel was awarded the Gene Fields Humane Award.
Christmas Rescue of a Lost Rescue Dog
Are you ready for a sweet Christmas story about a little lost doggy? We were walking our two dogs a few days ago and saw a little scared pup that looked like a Shitzu/Llasa Apso mix. He was limping, his hair was shaved, he had no collar. We scooped the little guy up and brought him home with us. We drove to Petco and Petsmart to ask if they recognized him. No one did. So we had him scanned to see if he was microchipped. He wasn’t. So we listed the little fella on Craigslist and a lost and found pup website also. No luck. We called around to a few vet clinics in our area … to no avail. So we took care of this little lost boy in our home for a few days.
We named the little guy Buddy. He was so sweet. He stayed with us and my two little dogs who played and slept and ate along with him. He seemed to limp a little less as the days went by. We wondered how his life was before he met us. We wondered if he was limping because he may have been a caged dog used for breeding because he was not neutered. We wondered if he came from a loving home or an abusive home. We were getting worried after our fourth day of loving on the little guy.
We decided to call a rescue group to see if they would take him in. We hoped they would have more ways and means of finding his owners. We were going to take him the next morning so I snuggled with him all night, knowing I may never see him again after we turned him over to rescue.
Then the doorbell rang—it was eleven at night. It was our neighbor bringing us a lost puppy poster she found out on the community mailbox. It was for a little white doggy named Scooter. It was HIM! I called the number on the poster and told them to please call me in the morning—I have their puppy.
Well, this will make you cry. The person who lost this little dog was a groomer named Tricia B. and she was so excited to hear that I found him. She told me that she worked at an animal hospital as a groomer and that they had recently found him in a mud puddle and he had been hit by a car. He couldn’t use his back legs; he dragged them. He was full of mats and had heartworms. She took him in and shaved him and put him on heartworm medication. She took him to an acupuncturist for his wounded legs and he was improving quite a bit … that’s when he got out and ran off.
It was Wednesday morning, December 21, when I took him to the animal hospital to meet Tricia and the whole staff came out to greet us—they were so happy to see Scooter! They immediately microchipped him right in front of us. Tricia told me that he will be neutered as soon as his heartworm treatment is done and that will keep Scooter from running away again.
I am sad that he isn’t here with me and my two pups. I enjoyed him so much. I loved seeing him spin around in the morning to go out for his morning walk. I miss cuddling at night with him and I miss the way he looked at me as if to say “Thank you for keeping me safe and warm.” Then I think … he is back home for Christmas with Tricia. He is exactly where he should be. Scooter … I love you! Merry Christmas!!!
—Carol in Indiana
Neglected Pit Bull Puppy
Rescued in Freezing Weather
It was a bitterly cold, somewhere around 15 degrees the day my sister Malissa agreed to help her friend move. It had snowed the night before and was snowing again when they arrived at her duplex. Malissa had gone through the sliding glass doors into the back yard to throw something into the trash can when she heard whining in the yard next door. By standing on the porch she could see over the six-foot wooden fence. She was horrified to see a puppy chained to a picnic table in the yard. The pup was so skinny you could count every rib and she was shivering fiercely.
She asked her friend about the dog and was told not to worry about it, that it was out there all time and would be fine. My sister wasn’t just going to leave this pup to die and so after not getting a response by knocking on the neighbor’s door, she grabbed a blanket from her car and went through a gate into the backyard. She was going to leave the dog with the blanket and call the humane society, until she saw that the chain that attached the dog to the table was only two feet long and was heavily embedded into the little one’s neck!
Malissa disconnected the chain from the table and scooping the puppy into the blanket, hopped into the car and headed to our vet clinic. The pup was very weak and malnourished and had to be treated for hypothermia. The chain had to be cut out of her neck. She was put on antibiotics and pain meds. She was just two months old and was a gorgeous red and white pit bull terrier. Malissa brought her home to foster her. She was only a foster for a week before my family decided to make her a permanent addition and named her Ruckus. She is now 4 years old and gets along with everyone and everything including her best friend, a five-pound calico cat named Fiona (see picture). You would never know that her life hasn’t always been filled with love, and the scars on her neck are the only reminder of her past. Rucus was Grand Champion in 4-H Rally this year with our youngest sister.
Now Ruckus works with physically and mentally disabled children as a therapy dog! Without that split-second decision that my sister made to save her life, the children and families who love Ruckus would never have known how great rescued dogs are. The special moments where she has been laying on the ground surrounded by happy laughing kids would have never happened. Our lives are truly happier and fuller because of her and she is a true ambassador for her breed.
-Machelle, Malissa and Maranda in Washington
Kitten Rescued from Bus Shelter
On the way home from busy Saturday activities, I set down my Kung Pao Chicken doggie bag on a bench in the bus shelter (enclosed on 3 sides) and was about to sit down when, whee—from the little “park” behind the bus shelter, out came a kitty from under a bush—he put his paws up on the partition but could not get to the bag—My reaction was “Where the H*** did YOU come from!??)!” And I immediately got up and walked carefully toward him. The people at the bus stop were wondering what the heck was going on. Thank God no one interfered.
I grabbed all my stuff and went around the bus shelter to him, got out my Sidewalk Rescue kit and opened the bag of Pounces to lure him away from the street (and my chicken). I called two Trap-Neuter-Return/rescue friends—no answer—left messages—no one called back so I had to call the shelter. He was WAY too close to a 4-lane VERY busy street and there was no way I was going to leave him there. I could not pick him up—very skittish. I was determined to stay until it got dark, and if he had not been rescued by then I would have had to leave with a VERY heavy heart.
However, the animal control officer called back saying “Well, we are not required by law to pick up any free-roaming cats, BUT I’ll come over and take a look at the situation.” We sort of chased the kitty—him with a big black net and me trying to to get the kitty to move towards the net. Nothing but street theatre came of it. The officer told me “You know, if he is feral, we may have to put him down if he is not adoptable!” I said “There is no way I can leave him here and none of my contacts have called me back. Give me the phone number of your Trap-Neuter-Return coordinator at the shelter and I’ll fill her in.”
The animal control officer then decided to trap the kitty, since he too would not have been able to sleep knowing the this cat was so close to danger. So, he set a raccoon trap (slightly bigger than a feral trap and with a wider gap that he could have squeezed out of) with a can of Fancy Feast inside and we waited over an hour—I was freezing—YAY! Victory!!
Then when the Animal Control van (with the diligent officer watching Kung Pao inside in the raccoon trap, trying to get out) became a speck in the distance, I finally caught a bus and went home and I don’t think I was very tired after that!!!!
I called Trap-Neuter-Return coordinator at the shelter to let her know he would be in the evaluation room at the shelter. The kitten was BEAUTIFUL—all black, little tiny green eyes like emeralds, big fat kitty cheeks with one big fat white whisker—and on the other end, he has big fat cojones (but not for long)!
Later, upon the suggestion of a Facebook friend, I left a message for the TNR coordinator and suggested the shelter name him Kung Pao Kitty. No further reply. WELL, ten agonizing days later I get a call from her—”Kung Pao Kitty is NOT feral! I’ve been playing with him and socializing him and he is almost ready to be put up for adoption!”
—Azar in New York
Kitten Trapped in Pickup Truck Engine
is Rescued in Parking Lot
My friend Bob is a manager at a big, busy, modern hardware store in southwest Wisconsin. One warm day not long ago a customer raced into the store and excitedly told him that there was the sound of a kitten yowling loudly inside a pickup truck. Bob didn’t hesitate; he ran out to investigate. He heard the frantic kitten too—sounds coming from inside a wheel well. But he couldn’t see the kitten.
Bob hurried back to the store. He told a staffer to call the humane society and the police. He asked another to try to find the owner of the vehicle. Then he grabbed his tools and hurried back to the truck. He crawled under the truck and got to work. He found the kitten. Now, how to get it out safely?
Soon the animal control officer showed up, as did a patrolman. A television station crew showed up too alerted by a report on police radio scanner!
Meanwhile, Bob freed the kitten and handed the little wiggling critter up to the animal control officer. The TV crew interviewed them; the segment aired that afternoon and evening. The kitten went to the humane society for examination and care, and would later be adopted.
I love this true story. In a world where cats are so often devalued, there are ordinary people who will urgently do everything in their power to save a helpless kitten.
Dog Lost during Car Accident
is Found 5 Weeks Later
One day I was driving in Houston TX with my dog Rutger riding in the back of my SUV and I had an accident. I was knocked out, and when I came to, I turned and saw that Rutger was not in the SUV anymore. Most of the windows were smashed and I assume he got out through a window. The vehicle was lying on its passenger side, so I climbed out of the driver’s side window and stood on the vehicle looking around the highway for my dog. I didn’t know how long I was knocked out, but all the traffic was stopped as I was part of a multi-car pileup and I could see that some police were just now approaching the scene. There was an ambulance trying to thread its way through the stopped traffic also.
I was bleeding profusely from my scalp wound but I took off down the freeway calling for Rutger. I thought that if he ran off, he was probably not badly injured and he probably ran away from all the stopped cars, not toward them, so I ran north down the freeway. Police came after me and pulling their guns told me to “freeze,” that I was fleeing the scene of an accident! I yelled that I was looking for my dog, but they forced me to stop. Eventually, after my SUV was towed away, and I kept refusing a ride to the hospital, they let me go. Still in my shirt, covered in blood, and with my head bandaged by the EMT guys, I started walking through the nearby streets where I thought he might have run, calling his name. I reasoned that he would have run from all the sounds of traffic on the freeway into the residential area just off the road.
Over the next three weeks I put up posters with Rutger’s picture and a $200 reward. I was advised by police that if I offered more than that, people would call me claiming to have found my dog just to shoot me when I arrived and take the money they hoped I would have on me.
I walked the streets in that area day and night. I covered 10 square kilometers, and then started an ever widening search pattern. I was cussed at, spit on, threatened, laughed at, and even received some sympathy, but I could not find Rutger. I vowed not to give up. I searched pounds and rescues every other day, and kept replacing reward posters that were tore down. After three weeks, though, I was starting to feel discouraged and I didn’t know how long I could afford to keep patrolling the area. I was missing work, spending lots of money on gas and I did not have a large income to work with in the first place! I kept looking, but now it was every other day.
After five weeks almost to the day, I was starting to come to grips with the idea that I would never see Rutger again, when I got another phone call about him. This wasn’t the first time someone had called claiming to have found him. I’d been asked to bring the money a few times before, I’d even been shown an black dog, once, that looked similar to Rutger’s picture from the reward flyers. I always wondered if they had stolen that dog from someone else to try to get a reward! One of the guys that tried to claim the reward got agitated when I told him that the black dog he brought me was not MY black dog. He said “It a black dog, just takes it and gimme my money!” There was obviously a communication barrier; it was difficult to convey the concept that the reward money was being offered for a specific black dog and not just any black dog. I still wonder what happened to that dog.
So it was with some misgivings that I listened to a lady tell me that she’d found my dog. But as she continued to speak I started to believe it was really Rutger this time. She said that she’d been watching this stray dog for 5 weeks. She said that there was a small patch of tall grass with a few trees beside the highway where the accident had occurred and that the dog sat there day after day watching all the traffic go by. Every week she tried to approach him but he ran from her. Finally on the fifth week he was too weak to run from her so she was able to read my phone number from his collar. I was amazed that with all the canvassing of the neighborhood I had done in that area, she had never even seen the reward poster!
My Rutger had found a spot just off the side of the freeway where he could sit watching the accident site. I suppose he was waiting for me to come back to the last place he had seen me. He waited for five long weeks. I was so glad to get him back!
—Sam in Texas
Published with true admiration for the anonymous Good Samaritan who tried to help Rutgers for five weeks, for faithful Rutgers who watched for Sam day after day after day, and for Sam who never gave up searching devotedly for his best friend. What a happy ending!
Neglected Dog Living Outdoors
on Concrete and Dirt is Rescued
by Brave, Caring Neighbor
I saw this dog out of my second-story window one day and immediately felt very bad for her. She was tied up on the side of my neighbor’s house, with nothing but dirt and concrete to lay on. I couldn’t see any shade structures to help her stay cool. There was no one in sight. I thought for sure they must have just put her out there while they were cleaning the house or something. I didn’t think there was any way she could be out there all the time, not in the summer heat! I saw her again a few days later, still out there. This kept going on until I was convinced she was never brought inside. I even saw people in the backyard occasionally, going about their business as if she didn’t even exist. It was so heartbreaking.
Finally one day I spoke to her owner, who told me her family no longer has time for her. She told me the dog was starting to get very shaky from the heat, and I could see she was also thin. I suggested she let me help find a new home. She seemed partially willing, so I sent emails to everyone I could think of asking for help. I took her in that night during a storm because she was sitting in the rain with her face down trying to keep the rain out of her eyes. (See her in the rain, right.) During that time at my house, I got to know her. She was a very sweet girl! I promised her I’d get her out of there, before reluctantly bringing her back over. During the next couple days I came up with a plan.
The plan was I would convince the owner to give her to me and I would take her home and then do whatever I needed to get her a home. I received so many emails one morning that I rushed out of work at noon and got her, later getting full permission from the owner to give her away. A couple days later she was given to a bullmastiff rescue organization, where she is now awaiting fostering or adoption. I was so glad to see so many people that I didn’t even know reaching out and offering help and support! I am grateful for all those people, and for the fact that that chapter in her life is now over! Soon she will have a new family that will love her and treat her right.
From subsequent conversations with her previous owner, I gathered that she was out there for maybe as long as a year. I have no idea how she survived the hot weather here in the southwest.
For her exemplary efforts to save her neighbor’s dog from continual neglect, Christine was awarded a Gene Fields Humane Award.
—Christine in the Southwest
Abandoned Dog in Foreclosed Home
is Saved by Caring Contractor
You would not believe how we came about this dog. My partner and I do work for banks on foreclosed homes. We go in to dark nasty dirty homes and take pictures for the bank and tell them what needs done to fix it up. I went to the bathroom for pictures. It was too dark to see a thing. I took the picture with a flash and didn’t think a thing of it. There was no light at all and there was no whining, no barking and no way I could see anything on the floor in the dark—nor was I looking, because there was not supposed to be an animal in the home. I went home, opened the picture and just freaked out. There was a gorgeous brown pitbull mix with huge eyes looking up at me sadly.
I was distraught obviously. I called every place I could, from dog rescue, the humane society, the county shelter. No one would do a thing. Finally after a fourth time calling to the humane society, they sent someone out to take a look. When we got there, the dog was literally shaking in the shower in the darkest part of the home and I am happy to say the handler got the dog out of the home.
She looked closely at the dog and then said “The dog is not in bad enough condition. I cannot take him.” I was at first very upset but come to think of it now I am actually happy they didn’t—I am sure the dog would have been put down.
This dog had not eaten or drank anything in weeks to possibly a month. He sucked down two bottles of water in minutes and lots of dog treats we had bought for him.
Luckily, James, a good man that works with my wife, was willing to take the dog for the time being. We started trying to raise some funds to get this dog to the vet and other things taken care of like they should.
I don’t think this dog is more than 9 months or so and I tell you I know for a fact this is going to be one amazing pet. His ears are so silky and he warmed up to us quickly (I am sure the food, water and treats helped!). I would love to see this dog land in a loving home soon.
—Paul in Arizona
Nacho is one of the lucky ones, thanks to the Good Samaritan who found him. Paul didn’t do the easy thing; he did the right thing to take responsibility for his life and get him into rescue. For his inspiring efforts to save Nacho from certain death, Paul was awarded the Gene Fields Humane Award.
UPDATE: on Nov. 19, 2010, ADOPTED! In his new mom’s words: “Nacho is a LOVE BUG!! We are enjoying him so very much. Our other dog and him never seem to stop playing, which is great because they wear each other out. He LOVES walks and going to the dog park. He hasn’t been eating too much, but that’s to be expected in a new environment. His tail hasn’t stopped wagging since we brought him home and he has given me enough kisses in the past couple of days to last me a lifetime. We’ve been working with both dogs, training them together so that they can live in harmony with one another. He did awesome when we took him to get bathed, groomed, nails clipped and teeth brushed at PetSmart. The groomers there wanted to steal him! He’s great in a crate, no accidents in the house, learned the dog door after watching his brother dog, Kona, go in/out of it once (VERY smart!).”
A Shy Aussie Stray is Caught
After Weeks of Feeding and Luring
I saw a small black aussie mix on the way to my daughter’s place. Each time I went out there I would see her beside the road, so one day I decided to try to approach her. She bolted. The next time I went, I brought food and just threw handfuls along the roadside and then pulled off the road not far away and with binoculars ready, I waited. After 30 minutes, she started grazing on the food.
I fed her the same way for a couple of weeks every day. Then I got some bowls and started feeding in the same spot every day. It was only about 20 feet off a busy road, but that’s where she was hanging out. After a week had passed, she started hanging around the food bowl waiting for me, but when I pulled off the road she would retreat farther back into the woods. I would give her clean water and food and go back to the car and watch. She always came to eat when I was far enough for her to feel safe.
I named her Bonnie and I would call her name and talk to her but never try to touch her or make eye contact with her. One day I decided to take a squeaky toy also. After I got back in the car and was watching her, she took the toy and went into the woods and then came back for the food. This time after she ate, she starting walking towards the car where I was sitting and layed down and was just staring at me. I rolled the window down and told her goodbye and she was a good girl and then left.
I did the same thing that week even with the toy and her pattern was always the same. Every morning at 9:00 I would leave my house drive the 12 miles and she was always there waiting for me. Six weeks passed.
One day I decided to take a blanket and some chicken and I parked the car and walked back into the woods. As I walked up an incline, I could see all the toys I had left scattered everywhere! I spread out the blanket and sat down put some food in a bowl about 10 feet from my back and a toy. I could hear her walking around behind me and she starting eating. Then she took the toy and left. I left a piece of chicken for her and I could tell she was in the bushes watching me. I picked up a few of the toys and as I started walking back to the car she starting barking at me and followed behind me. I kept talking to her but never directly looked at her. This went on for a week and she would come closer and closer.
I could tell she was starting to enjoy this morning ritual. One day she smelled my boot and I could feel her smelling my back. I would throw toys and she would get them and not return them. Each time I left, she would follow me closer and closer to the car.
One day I decided to take a big meaty rib bone. I stayed up there with her for about 45 minutes. This one morning she was especially playful and when I packed up everything she followed me this time more by my side than behind me. She followed me all the way to the car this time. I was worried because it was so close to the road so I yelled at her to get back but she stayed by me. I opened the back door of the car, where I had the bone I was going to throw out for her. She was smelling it and I could tell she really wanted it. I waited while she would poke her head in the car then back out then try again. After about five minutes she jumped in the back seat and I shut the door. She was very panicky at that point. I still had never touched her. I opened the back door and sat in the seat, she had gotten up into the back window and was panting like crazy. I keep talking to her. I touched her back and kept talking to her and it seemed like all the stress just left her finally. She stayed in the back window but just seemed to have relaxed.
I took her home and wrapped a blanket around her to get her into the house so she wouldn’t be so panicked. Once in the bedroom she was a different dog.
My best advice for anyone who wants to catch a shy stray dog is to establish a feeding ground and take your time. It is all about trust. It is time-consuming and frustrating and I did a lot of worrying: is she going to be okay? Will she get snake bit? I knew if I rushed her I would lose her. So I took it nice and slow. The whole thing took about three months and I thought about the traps and darts but I knew she was beginning to trust me so I didn’t want to take steps backwards with all the other stuff.
The payoff is huge. Bonnie now lives with a close friend of mine and she seems to be a happy girl. In the picture above, see how she loves greetings.
—Debbie in Texas
Puppy Frozen to Train Rail is Rescued
Minutes Before Train Arrives
Sometimes life offers mysteries that help us believe that a special force guides our hands and our lives, and this is a story that illustrates that point.
Gary is a track inspector in Alabama who rides a “rail truck” that clears tracks of debris. In early January, during a rare frigid-cold snap, he and the dispatcher made a last-minute decision to reverse his route to better serve an incoming train—a decision that saved a puppy’s life.
He set out on the new route and made good time. Suddenly his truck jerked and shuddered as if it had run over something. As a track inspector, it is his job to investigate all debris on the tracks, so he stopped and looked behind the truck. Amazingly, there was nothing behind him! It was odd.
As Gary turned forward, out of the corner of his eye he noticed a little hump of fur on top of one rail. What is it? He got out of the truck. To his immense surprise, the hump of fur had eyes that swiveled to watch him approaching. It was alive! It was a puppy. Gary pulled out his cell phone and took this photo (used with permission).
Gary reached down to pick it up, but immediately realized that the poor shivering puppy was frozen fast to the rail. He pulled out his pocketknife and carefully cut the puppy’s fur along its legs and belly, freeing it. He wrapped up the little thing and then sent the photo to his wife, Lois. He got in his truck with the puppy and completed his route. Shortly thereafter, the expected train came through.
Lois immediately posted the puppy’s picture on her Facebook page, along with a brief account, which was picked up by friends and a weather blogger widely read in the state. Soon offers for adoption showed up on Lois’s page, and little “Track” found his forever home very soon.
But it could have easily been a very different story. If Gary had taken the original route, the puppy would have been killed by the train with Gary nowhere nearby. Or if Gary had not experienced that odd shuddering jerk just a few feet away from the helpless puppy, he probably would have run it over without even knowing it was there. Is this just coincidence, or something more?
—Gary and Lois in Alabama
18-Wheeler Rescue of Coonhound
on the Highway
It was an early evening in November. We were just outside of Grants New Mexico on I-40 East. My husband and I were on our way to Georgia to deliver a load. My husband is a truck driver and I was traveling with him, along with our two dogs, a lab mix and a Chihuahua. I was sitting in the passenger seat when out of the blue this dog came running out on the highway. We almost hit this dog!
My husband pulled the 18-wheeler over to the shoulder quickly and I threw my shoes on and got out of the truck. We were scared for the dog’s life—it could get hit by a vehicle. The dog had stopped running and seemed scared and unsure about what to do. At first she just stood there and looked at us! I had forgotten to shut the door on the truck and my lab mix had jumped out after me. My dog ran to the stray dog and so I was able to grab the stray dog, a female. She had a collar on but no tags.
So we loaded her up and once we got her in the truck I checked her out to make sure she was okay. And while I was checking her out I realized we had a beautiful purebred Redbone Coonhound in our truck. I got online and did some searching to find out if anyone had a missing dog in the area. Found nothing! She stayed on the truck with us for the night and that was a very long night. With not much sleep, because she whined and cried all the time.
The next morning I was again on the computer looking desperately for the owners or a place for this dog. I wasn’t going to dump her off at a “kill” shelter—I don’t believe in that. I made call after call trying to find a place for this dog. Eventually I talked with a hound rescuer in Austin Texas and I sent pictures of the stray dog to him. Yes, she was a coonhound. The rescuer, Jerry, frantically called his contacts everywhere to find a place for this dog. He called us back and told us to take her to a place right out of Amarillo Texas named Critter Camp. She would wait there until another of Jerry’s contacts could pick her up and bring her to an Austin Texas-based rescue group. Later that day I got an email from Jerry telling me that if he can’t find the owners of this dog, he had someone ready to adopt her. All in a days work!
I’m a huge animal lover. Both my husband and I have saved many dogs. We take them out of horrible situations and find good loving homes for them. Someday I want to open my own business to help animals!
—Rachel, with Alan, her truckdriver husband
Dog Rescued from a Cliff Ledge
An Oregon woman was woken from sleep before dawn one cool autumn morning. What was that she just heard outside her bedroom window? There it was again: a yowl, some whimpers and whines, and it sounded like … a dog. But it sounded like it was coming from above!
As it slowly grew light, the sad calls continued. The Good Samaritan walked around her property, listening intently. Surely this dog would come into view, but it didn’t. So she called law enforcement. The officer hunted but couldn’t find the dog either, but did confirm hearing the dog crying.
The next morning before dawn, the dog’s cries once again woke the woman. This time she called the county animal control office, but because the police had already searched for the dog, they declined to send the animal control officer. Later that day, the woman and her husband searched intently for the dog, calling it, and determined that the dog must be stuck on a nearby cliff beyond a small river.
So this time the woman phoned the state Humane Society, which contacted a technical animal rescue squad. They agreed to come the next morning.
The dog woke the woman before dawn with barks instead of yowls. No doubt he was feeling desperate and very hungry. When the rescue squad arrived, they climbed to the top of the cliff and could finally see a black Labrador Retriever perched on a ledge. He was quickly rescued by the team, which had rock-climbing gear, and that afternoon “Hercules” was reunited with his owner, thanks to the repeated efforts of a Good Samaritan to find help for him.
Rescued Dog with Two Broken Legs
There is a fenced area behind the ball field in Lakeside Park, Duncanville, Texas. A female white pitbull-type dog was seen sleeping in the bushes in this fenced area for one to two weeks by a kind neighbor, who brought the dog food and water every few days. She couldn’t get close to the dog however. One day she noticed the dog was no longer drinking water. That is when she called me. I have a petfinder website under “Best Friends Animal Rescue Club.” She told me where to look and I drove right out to Lakeside, bringing water; the neighbor was waiting for me.
We found the dog laying motionless in the bushes. We opened a food can and the dog started to rouse. She was very slow, but came for the food. She was hungry and thirsty. She was very afraid and reluctant to let me pet her, so I didn’t push it. She drank lots of water and then laid back down. I could see that her front legs weren’t right; they were swollen and I knew they could be broken. I told the neighbor that I would call a fellow rescuer and we would try to coax the dog into the car using food, which we did the very next day. We named her “Peary,” because her light green-yellow eyes are the color of pears.
We brought Peary immediately to a vet clinic. She received all of her shots and was tested for heartworms. Thank goodness she was negative. However, her x-rays revealed what we had suspected. Both front legs were fractured and even worse, one was not lined up and had become infected. The vet suspected that she had jumped or had been thrown from a moving vehicle. Peary was immediately put on antibiotics and pain meds, and a veterinary surgeon examined her. Since her injuries had occurred probably at least two weeks earlier and the fractures were already calcifying, the surgeon concluded that she should continue to heal on her own. Antibiotics cleared up the infection. Although she will likely become arthritic in those bones later in life, she should enjoy good quality of life overall.
Peary (now renamed Gracie) has been adopted into a loving family, where she continues to recuperate. Best Friends Animal Rescue Club writes: “Thank you for the wonderful response that Gracie received. It is touching to know that so many people care about God’s creatures. Gracie is in a foster home and her foster mom has fallen in love with her. She says that Gracie is home.”
—Best Friends Animal Rescue Club, Texas
Saving a Collie Who Was Struck By a Car
On July 3rd at 10:15 p.m. a woman knocked on the door of our Plymouth MA home and said a dog had been struck by a car and was lying on the side of road in front of our house. We wrapped the dog in blankets to keep it from going into shock and called the local police. The dog appeared to be a collie weighing about 90 lbs. and had lost a lot of blood from apparently being struck in the head. Two women pulled over and together with my fiance, Anthony, helped. I was extremely upset and standing by with my emergency vet book ready to do what I could.
When the policeman arrived he said that unfortunately he could not transport the dog to the emergency vet in Bourne, MA because it was against policy. The only thing he could do was drag him off the road and leave him in the woods to die. This was impossible for me to comprehend! Through my tears, my fiance and I decided to drive the wounded animal to the vet for care so the policeman and Anthony lifted the dog into the car. Another woman who was present kindly offered to drive us to the vet since I was a mess. We stayed with the dog for a few hours until the vet tech said he was stable. The dog was only wearing a 2001 rabies tag—no ID.
Early the next day I checked in with the vet and was told the dog had made it through night and was expected to recover. I decided to post a found ad on Craigslist to try and locate the owner. On Sunday I received no responses, but a very nice man wrote to me and said how unbelievably kind we were to do such a wonderful thing. This was really nice to hear. I called the vet again on Sunday to check on the dog’s condition and they told me they found the owner.
We never heard from the owner, but I am praying they had a happy reunion! It made us feel good to save a dog’s life that otherwise may not have had that chance!
—Nikki in Massachusetts
Lost Dog in Traffic Rescued
On my way home one hot summer day as I approached a stop sign, I noticed all the cars in front of me were swinging wide into the other lane as if to avoid something. That something was a small lost dog who was overheated and scared. I could not believe no one had stopped to help this dog! I did not care that it was in the middle of work traffic—I put my flashers on, opened the door and went to collect the dog. It growled at me, so I got a blanket from the car and covered her and was able to pick her up and load her inside.
I began looking for joggers and kids to ask them if they had seen this dog or knew where it lived as it had no collar or tags—not to mention it was matted and dirty. I don’t know why, but I turned onto a cul-de-sac. I saw a woman working in her yard and asked her if she had seen the dog I had. Her face lit up and she said yes, earlier in the day, but she was unable to find him since then. I informed her that if he would have had a collar and tags, he would have been home sooner. She told me that he was not her dog—she was just taking care of him and a few other dogs in the house across the street while the owners were moving.
I offered to carry the dog to the house for her and when she opened the front door the stench of urine and feces filled the air. The house was empty, the carpet pulled up, the power off and the back door open. The entire home was a dog house and looked like a dump. She said the owner was going to come back and get the dogs after she was all moved in and that she was feeding them until she came back.
I called animal control as I felt the conditions these dogs were forced to live in were horrible, not to mention that they might be possibly abandoned. I went back by the house later on, but the dogs were gone, the house cleaned up and a for sale sign was in the yard.
—April, a Neighborhood Watch Leader in Texas
Injured Puppy Left Under a Jacket in a Ditch
Adapted from Oklahoma Beagle Rescue
Meet “Muddy Puppy,” named because he was found in a muddy ditch in the pouring rain. Hit by a car and with two painfully broken back legs, someone did care enough to try to protect him from the driving rain with an old jacket. But not enough to offer him relief from his painful suffering and overwhelming fear. Instead they just drove off leaving this 4-month-old puppy to slowly and painfully die all alone. All hope gone.
An Oklahoma Beagle Rescue volunteer driving by feared she had found a child in the rain and stopped to check. Instead, under the jacket she found a very grateful, scared, cold and miserable beautiful Black & Tan Coonhound puppy! Bless that volunteer.
“Muddy Puppy” was rescued from almost certain death that day. He was lifted gently into the loving arms of a beagle rescuer. He received medical care, had surgery, and had a second surgery, all expenses supported by internet readers like you, through the First Giving web site.
What would you have done if you saw a brightly-colored jacket in a ditch during a rainstorm? Next time you see anything odd while you are driving, please stop to check. Remember Muddy Puppy laying beneath an old jacket in a wet ditch just waiting to die. You may save a life.
Rescue of Eight Abandoned Hunting Hounds
An ice storm was bearing down in the southern United States and a pack of 3 adult Beagles and 5 puppies were sighted in a rural Arkansas forest. Concerned animal lovers sent numerous emails to locate a rescuer who could take immediate action to save the dogs, and two compassionate women rose to the challenge.
It’s not like they didn’t have anything else to do that day. Desiree had successfully lobbied for felony animal cruelty laws and had just been informed of the law’s passing, and Carol worked full-time. But later in the afternoon, after learning of the ice storm coming, they gathered their gear and drove 45 miles to the woods where the dogs had been sighted.
And they found the dogs waiting near a plastic tarp tent and food that a caring Good Samaritan had fixed up for them (above; photo by Carol). That’s not all they found…shotgun shells littering the ground near the dogs were a testament to cruel hunters who were shooting at the abandoned dogs.
Carol and Desiree managed to load all eight Beagles into their vehicle and drive them back to town, where Little Rock Animal Village and Care for Animals, two animal rescues, immediately took them into their adoption programs. Thanks to these kind people, the Beagles had warm shelter, food, and affection that cold, stormy night and beyond. Bless their brave hearts.
Abandoned hunting dogs perish daily of exposure and starvation all across America. Please help them whenever you can. You’ll be in good company. Thank you Desiree and Carol!
Saving Cindy Lou, a Stray Cat in a Cemetary
The temperatures in the fishing city of New Bedford were dropping rapidly. The weather stations were advising folks to stay inside, as they were predicting several days of sustained temperatures below zero. With forecasts like this, cat rescue groups mobilized to reinforce the feral cat shelters on the city’s waterfront and to make sure there was adequate food for the cold days ahead. With a little help from people, the managed colonies of feral cats on the waterfront were prepared for the storm, but one little grey cat was not.
How she arrived in St. Mary’s cemetery nobody really knows. Likely, she was one of the many unwanted cats that find themselves looking for a warm nook to snuggle up in and some kibble to eat. A concerned family saw the little cat and at first did not think too much about it. With so many stray cats in the area, this one was just passing through. But the little cat stayed on, not knowing where to go for help. The family brought food and water to the cat but were hesitant to bring the cat inside their home, possibly exposing their own pets to sickness. They made calls to Animal Control with no luck and contacted some rescue groups. Finally, frustrated and fearful, they took action and brought the little gray cat to Habitat for Cats, a local rescue, when they realized that she was getting thinner and thinner, sicker and sicker. Unlike feral cats, stray or homeless cats are not equipped to deal with cold weather and scavenging for food. They do not have the same survival instincts as feral cats that are born and raised in the wild.
You could hear the cat’s heavy breathing through the carrier. When she stepped out, the volunteers were heartbroken to see a cat with ribs protruding from her sides. Her eyes were nearly glued shut from infection and she was breathing through her mouth because she was so congested. This was one sorry cat. The odds for her survival were slim given her present state, but without this family stepping forward, and pushing past their fears, she would have certainly died, all alone and cold.
The cat was put into the coziest section of the shelter, given a fleece blanket and offered a dish of warm food. The grateful little feline gobbled it up and purred happily.
The little cat settled happily into her new routine of sitting atop the dryer in the laundry room, breathing in the warm steamy air and enjoying dishes of food. It was then discovered, as the little cat stretched out contentedly, that this forlorn cat was also declawed. Someone had taken from this cat her ability to defend herself.
After a couple of days, it became apparent to volunteers that the little gray cat was not out of the woods. The skin on her nose had begun sloughing off and her tail was extremely brittle. A trip to the veterinarian confirmed what volunteers suspected: severe frostbite. The veterinarian informed volunteers that Cindy Lou Hoo (as she had become to be known) would lose her nose and ears and her tail would need to be removed due to the frostbite. The vet also stated that Cindy Lou was about 12 years old.
Cindy Lou Hoo is still healing. Her soft little ears became more brittle and the tips fell off. While she has gained weight, she still has medical issues. Her frostbitten nose did eventually fall off, giving Cindy Lou Hoo, a rather unusual yet endearing appearance. Being nose-less has not prevented Cindy Lou from being a huge fan of Fancy Feast tuna and shrimp canned food. Cindy loves to be stroked and petted and all you need to do is smile at her and she begins to purr. Cindy Lou may look very different than the other cats at the shelter, but what makes her special is not her physical appearance, but her amazing will to survive against tremendous odds: elderly, declawed, sickly and frozen, while still preserving her love and trust of humans.
She may not remember the special people that put her into a carrier one cold night and brought her to into care, but that fateful decision by the family has made all the difference to Cindy Lou.
—Stephanie at Habitat for Cats
A Rescue Using a Jackhammer
My best friend performed an amazing rescue many years ago in Wisconsin. She was a 19-year-old student and had moved into a new apartment. She heard a kitten meowing repeatedly, and she was concerned. She carefully followed the sound into the basement to a spot behind a concrete basement wall. So she went to a rental center and rented a jackhammer. She carefully used that jackhammer to punch a hole in the concrete basement wall and discovered an emaciated and thirsty kitten in a deep hole. She took the kitten to the vet, and adopted it. That kitten lived a long and happy life. She told me that she could not sleep with the kitten crying and she had to do something. I don’t know too many women who would have the guts to rent a jackhammer to save a kitten.
Rescue From the Woods
I own horses and board them at a military base in Georgia. While others were out riding, they saw a small white dog running through the woods. They could not get close because the dog was afraid of the horses. The dog was seen several times throughout the next two weeks, but we could never get anywhere near the dog. It was in the summertime and the heat index was at 120-125 degrees. The dog was in a military training area which was off-limits to privately-owned vehicles, and miles away from the nearest housing area.
So, it was apparent that the dog got to that place by a soldier driving back miles in the woods and dropping the dog out, never giving a thought to the fact that we have alligators and coyotes throughout the woods and hawks who prey on small animals.
After not seeing the dog for several days, I took my truck back in the woods to look for the dog and was just about to give up when I saw a small white form lying motionless on a dirt trail. As I came closer and realized it was the dog, she picked up her head and with her two front legs tried to pull herself away from me. She was so starved and dehydrated that she could not even walk to get away.
I stopped the truck, got out and walked up to her and picked her up. She immediately just collapsed—I thought she was dead—but apparently it was just out of relief. I took her home. She should have weighed 9-10 lbs., but only weighed 5 lbs.
I nursed her back to health—took several days for her to be able to walk without wobbling—and I added her to my dog family. That was a year ago and this small Maltese, now named Little Bit, remains one of my most devoted fans.
Many of our soldiers are real heros, but there is one out there who is cruel and inhumane—throwing a Maltese out in the woods to live on her own, which translated means to be preyed upon or to starve to death. This soldier is not a hero in my books!!
Desert Rescue by Train Conductors
In late 2007, as his train rolled through western Utah, freight conductor Ken VanMoorhem saw a stray, mangy dog, lost in the desert. He was affected by her pathetic appearance and thought about her. He watched for the dog each time he traveled the route. Two months later, in February 2008, he saw her again, taking shelter in a train tunnel. This time, he took action. He told a fellow conductor Theo Bassett, who lived within driving distance, about the dog’s approximate location. Bassett found her at the tunnel, and trustingly, she let him pick her up immediately. He fed her his ham sandwich and drove her home. Though suffering from a broken pelvis, other broken bones, collapsed lung, and a missing paw, she is expected to recover. The vet guessed that possibly she was caught in an animal trap and chewed her paw off to escape; that she had probably been hit by a car; and estimated that she had been surviving for months on her own. “The vet said she’ll be able to have a good quality of life,” said VanMoorhem, who has adopted her. “Her will to live and survive is amazing.” He named her Hogan, named after the tunnel where he saw her the second time. Today, Hogan likes to play in the back yard with VanMoorhem and his other dog.
Saving Tiger Lily from Dog Attack
One morning, my husband Stew heard what first sounded like a cat screeching from an altercation with another cat. Then the screeching became so unusually loud and intense that he ran outdoors to investigate. He saw three dogs chomping down on a four-pound kitten who was airborne, fighting for her life. Stew immediately jumped over the four-foot fence and pounced on the dogs to force them to let go of the kitty. Soon after, I ran out to find the terrified little thing (later named Tiger Lily) hiding under a dilapidated motorcycle. It did not take long for me to grab protective gloves and a small recovery cage for an immediate trip to the animal hospital. I thank God that the hospital could take her right away.
Her back left femur was fractured and completely severed, and remarkably, that was her only major injury. The animal hospital assured us that, once her leg heals fully from the surgery, she will be able to jump, climb and otherwise live a normal life. Even if she never wants to climb a tree again, it is comforting to know she will not be crippled for life.
Before the dog attack, Tiger Lily was a stray and she would not let us touch her nor come anywhere close to her. Now, as she recovers in a padded cage in our home, she is accepting love, food and medicine. She purrs as each of us holds her for long periods. I imagine she is warming up to us because she understands on some level that we are helping her with her broken leg. Speaking of which, her wounds are healing well after only a week. Thanks to my husband’s bravery and love for animals, she has a safe indoor life ahead of her in a loving adoptive home, and with us until we locate such a home.
Thank you to Sunbear Squad readers who paid Tiger Lily’s medical bill in full during February 2008! Tiger Lily continues to heal while basking in the love of her foster family. Your kind hearts made a difference; they have been struggling with unemployment’s effect on household finances.
Dog Saves 10-Year-Old Boy
until Rescue by Fire Dept.
Merle is a 65-pound Golden Retriever from Evansville, Indiana. One day when she was out with her pet buddy Sam, she fell through the ice while chasing a stick. Terrified that his dog was in trouble, 10-year-old Glenn “Sam” Henderson tried to save her. But, he fell in as well. A neighbor heard his cries for help, luckily, and called the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Witnesses credit Merle with saving Sam’s life. “We’ve never had anything quite like this. The whole time it looked like the dog was behind him, nudging him, keeping him up and pushing him toward the ice,” said Goeff L. Rupe, medical officer for the fire department. “Once we got Sam into the boat, the only thing he said was, ‘Get my dog.'”
Unhurt despite this ice plunge, Merle swan to the shore, and waited on the bank while Sam was rowed to safety. She continued pacing nervously waiting outside of the ambulance while Sam was stripped, dried off, and wrapped in a blanket. Sam had to be rushed to Deaconess Hospital so he could be treated for his hypothermia. Sam and Merle were reunited at home. “We’ll have to find a nice steak bone for Merle,” said Sam’s father. As for Sam, Mr. Henderson said, “He can have whatever he wants to eat today but, much to his dislike, he’s got some homework to do.”
This story was written by Peter C. Jones and Lisa MacDonal, in “Hero Dogs: 100 True Stories of Daring Deeds” as reproduced in www.landofpuregold.com.
Hit-and-Run Dog Victim is Rescued
While driving to work one on Wednesday, July 26, 2006, a Good Samaritan passed an apparently dead dog laying in the median of a busy Austin, Texas highway. When she took one last look at the dog in her rear-view mirror, she saw the dog raise its head. The dog was still alive! She turned around and drove back to rescue the dog. Another car pulled over behind him—a local veterinarian, as luck would have it. The vet evaluated the dog, a border collie mix, who was barely conscious, emaciated, dehydrated, matted with burrs and infested with ticks, and had likely been on his own for weeks. Because of his dislocated pelvis and front leg, major head swelling, and numerous scrapes and bruises, the dog couldn’t stand or walk. He would have suffered and died in the hot sun that day if not for his rescuers.
The vet was on her way out of town, but she called her clinic, Fur & Feathers Animal Clinic, to prepare them to accept delivery of the injured dog. The Good Samaritan rushed the dog to the clinic for treatment. Within two days, Elliot had begun to recover and could sit up. The Good Samaritan and her wife offered to foster the dog, now named Elliot, until he could find a home, and the veterinarian offered to discount treatment costs for Elliot. A local rescue, Austin Dog Alliance, offered to help Elliot find a home and help raise money for his treatment. He has since been adopted. Elliot is a very lucky dog!
In the early afternoon hours of Sunday, March 19, 2006, I was travelling east on Interstate 94, headed back home to Hopkins after a weekend visit to my mother in Fergus Falls. As I passed the Sauk Centre exit, I saw some movement under the overpass, in the grassy area of the median. Initially, I thought it was a deer, but in driving past, I saw it was actually two dogs, a yellow lab and a golden retriever. I drove to the next turnaround and headed west to see if I could help get the dogs into my van and away from what I knew was a very dangerous situation. As I neared the overpass, I witnessed a horrendous sight. The golden retriever ran into traffic and was hit by an oncoming vehicle. The sight of this dog flying up in the air after impact is a memory that haunts me still as I try to fall asleep each night.
What transpired next is that I quickly got the yellow lab into my van, then the driver of the other vehicle lifted the golden retriever onto a blanket and placed him into the back of my van. The dog was still breathing at this point. After the driver and accompanying riders pressed a wad of cash into my hands (for any expenses related to the dying dog), I quickly got turned around and headed into Sauk Centre. A 9-1-1 operator connected me with a state trooper and a local police officer who led me to a vet clinic that was not far off the freeway.
The retriever died soon after arriving at the clinic. I was very surprised when the officers informed me that a veterinarian at the clinic confirmed that the golden retriever was his dog. It turns out the labrador retriever was owned by another veterinarian at the same clinic. Neither dog had I.D. tags on their collars. Dogs running loose not only face dangers from traffic, but also from a myriad of other dangers, such as eating poisons, antifreeze, etc. Veterinarians should be setting an example for all pet owners in the community by being responsible pet owners. The irony of this story is truly disturbing.
The money given to me by the man who hit the golden retriever was donated to “Rescue a Golden Retriever,” a volunteer rescue organization in Hopkins, in memory of a beautiful dog who died way before his time and way too violently. I pray he has now passed over the Rainbow Bridge and is running free in fields of green, never to be hurt again.
—Twyla in Minnesota
Stray Kitten Finds Love at a Wedding
A while back my wife and I went to Lake Winter Haven Florida. I was going to be a groomsman/usher for a friend’s wedding at Bok Tower Gardens. The night before the wedding I went outside our motel room for a walk. I heard a kitten meowing plaintively from the parking lot. After looking around, I spotted a tiny kitten, probably between 7 and 9 weeks old, hiding under a boat trailer. It was extremely shy—it took me about an hour to maneuver it into a place where I could pick it up. As soon as I picked the kitten up and she realized she was safe, she began purring loudly. Her eyes were a little crusted up, but otherwise she appeared to be in good shape.
We kept her in our motel room overnight—luckily it was a pet-friendly motel. We gave her water and a little bit of milk to hold her over until the morning.
The next morning we had to go to the wedding, and since it was an early Saturday morning in central Florida none of the vet offices or animal rescue places were open. We placed a towel in our empty carry-on bag and carried the kitten to the wedding. We left the bag open so she could peek out.
Since I had to stay for pictures, my wife took the kitten back to town in an attempt to find an open vet, shelter, or at least a police station to take custody of the kitten. None of the vets were open and the only help the Police desk officer offered was to tell my wife that “the animal control officer doesn’t work weekends” and then the officer walked back into the secured area of the station.
So, the kitten (now called Carillon nicknamed after the bells at Bok Tower) came to the wedding reception. We gave her more water and bits of chicken from the reception dinner, which she gobbled up greedily. She ended up eating the meat from half a drumstick over the course of two hours. I felt bad that the kitten took some of the attention away from the bride and groom, but there was nothing else we could do.
My wife and I would have kept her, but we had to fly back to Pennsylvania the next day, and you can’t take a kitten on most airlines—at least without advance notice and approval. We needed to find a shelter to take her to, or someone to take care of her. The grooms sister and brother-in-law who lived locally agreed to take care of her until the next week when they could take her to a shelter. They ended up keeping her, and she’s still living happily with them today.
—Jim in Pennsylvania
Passerby Saves Dog Frozen to Train Tracks
A construction worker driving to a Wisconsin restaurant on a sub-zero day noticed a dog sitting on train tracks, and noticed the dog hadn’t moved when he passed again an hour and a half later, so he pulled over. Jeremy Majorowicz figured something was wrong. And he was right. As he approached, he noticed that the dog was shivering hard. He approached and offered a bite of muffin to the dog, which was refused. He tried to call the dog to him, but the dog didn’t attempt to move. So Majorowicz phoned law enforcement, and animal control was summoned as well. In the frigid afternoon air, a team of men puzzled over the dog. Police officer Tim Strand guessed that the dog may be frozen to the train tracks, and he lifted up the tail. The dog was frozen fast. Strand freed the dog by yanking him by the tail, leaving a lot of hair in the ice. The dog yelped, but he was free. Ten minutes later, a train came through. The dog was taken to Chippewa County Humane Association, and was immediately treated for hypothermia and named “Ice Train.” He was later adopted. “I have two dogs myself, so I didn’t want to leave the dog if there was something wrong,” Majorowicz said.
Pedestrians Find Cat in Cage on Ice by River
Two friends walking home from work on a pedestrian bridge above the Clark Fork River in Missoula, MT, heard cat cries. They searched for the source of the cries and spotted a house cat trapped in a wire cage resting on slushy river ice and called 9-1-1 for help. And help arrived swiftly. Firefighters launched a boat and rescued the cat, discovering that a 16-pound rock was also in the cage, indicating an attempt to drown the cat that failed, fortunately. The wet cat was malnourished and rescuers didn’t know how long it was trapped on the ice. One of the firefighters, Josh Macrow, adopted the female calico cat, naming her “Lucky.” “It’s just the sweetest cat,” Macrow said. The identity of the abuser is not known.
For their rescue of Lucky, Sunbear Squad presented the two friends with a Gene Fields Humane Award.
Hikers Follow and Save Dog Barking
from Underground Cave, Lost 16 Days
Hikers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, TN, were enjoying a fall walk on a park trail in Nov. 2005, when they heard a dog barking. They tracked the sound to a ground hole, but they couldn’t get close. A builder working at a nearby property heard the barking too, and he was able to get close enough to hear that the dog was trapped in a sink hole. Park rangers were called to the scene that day, but couldn’t see the dog due to the late hour. The next day, four park rangers came with rappelling equipment and found the dog in an underground cave 70 feet below ground. They rigged up a harness and lifted the emaciated dog out of the hole. The dog, Buck, a Mountain Cur, wore a collar identifying his owner. When called, the owner said he had lost his dog while hunting raccoons 16 days earlier. He was very appreciative that Buck was rescued.
Tidbit’s Lucky Day
I’d like to share my story about how my sister and I saved our little kitty Tidbit. My sister, Emilie, had come home from college for the weekend and we were bored and decided to drive to the mall. Emilie decided to take an alternative route for no reason in particular. Thank goodness she made that decision. While driving down the road I glanced to the side of the road and saw a tiny little kitten walking dangerously close to traffic. I told Emilie what I just saw and she turned around immediately. We picked the kitten up and saw that she was really sick. She was extremely skinny and her eyes and nose were crusted over. We took her home and tried to feed her while our dad found an emergency late night animal hospital nearly an hour away. We drove all the way there and got her medicine and kitten food. It’s been over a year now and Tidbit is 100% fully recovered. She’s now the most energetic cat that I’ve ever known.
—Jessica from Pittsburgh, PA
The Lucky 13, Saved by Letter from Neighbor
A handwritten note in awkward, stilted English arrived in the Vernon County (Wis.) Humane Society mailbox in mid-January 2004. It told of 20 dogs that were starving on a secluded farm. The writer was Amish.
When the sheriff and Vernon County Humane Society officials arrived, only 13 remained alive. They were all desperately thirsty and hungry. Most heartbreaking were 4 small dead puppies, huddled together in a doghouse.
The “Lucky 13” dogs still alive were immediately taken into veterinary care and the long process of recovery from starvation and dehydration began.
The Sunbear Squad encourages the very same “loving kindness” as shown by the Amish wife for her neighbor’s dogs, when she took several minutes from her busy day to write a letter.
A Roadside Rescue in Texas
One afternoon in early 2005, a woman drove past a very large, dark dog body in a ditch along a busy highway. Distractedly, she wondered what happened to it. A few hours later, she approached the dog body coming from the other direction and his head popped up just as she passed. “That dog is alive,” she thought. She pulled her car over and got out.
The dog was alive. An emaciated and weakened Great Dane mix, he was a stray who had been hit by a vehicle and left to die.
Another car pulled up. A man stepped out to help. He said, “I’ve been seeing this dog for days, but I thought it was dead!”
Off to The Vet
Despite the risks involved with handling a heavy, badly injured, and potentially dangerous stray dog, they were determined to help.
The rescuers gently lifted the Great Dane into the back of the woman’s SUV, and drove to a nearby veterinarian, who immediately began care. The dog had two broken forelegs, a broken pelvis, and a badly scraped and abraded muzzle and nose. He was starving and dehydrated.
Because the bones had started to knit, the vet guessed that the dog had been hit by a vehicle at least a week previously.
What about the scraped mouth and nose? The dog with two broken forelegs was attempting to walk on his muzzle, until he became too weak to move, the vet guessed.
The Specialist Helps
The vet called in a orthopedic specialist from a vet school several hours away. This specialist reduced his fees, because “a dog that wanted to live so badly” that he walked on his muzzle deserved special treatment.
After examining the x-rays and the dog, the specialist guessed that the injuries had occurred up to two weeks earlier. Probably Duke was near death when he was finally rescued, after laying beside the highway for many days without food, water, or treatment, while thousands of cars passed.
Did he raise his head and look at traffic, desperate for food and water? Starvation is painful. Did he attempt to reposition himself on the hard ground, as his multiple broken bones throbbed? Did anyone see him walk on his muzzle?
Apparently not one passerby saw him move during all those days of laying in the ditch. For who is hard-hearted enough to drive past, see a dog in distress, and not make even one phone call for help?
The Happy Ending
Surgeries and treatment began, and Duke’s veterinarian continued to treat him for free, but the expenses were steep. A friend sent notices to Great Dane discussion lists across the nation asking for donations for Duke’s medical expenses. Responses flooded in. Duke gained weight, had physical therapy, and was adopted.
Duke was a very, very lucky dog. By moving at the right moment, he connected with the brave heart of a woman who couldn’t pass him by. For her rescue of Duke, Sunbear Squad presented the woman with a Gene Fields Humane Award.
A Parking Lot Rescue
A few weeks ago on a very hot summer day, I was in a grocery store parking lot walking toward the entrance, and I saw a little poodle-type dog standing up inside a car, trying to breathe through the window which was open just a few inches. This poor dog was panting so hard that it could hardly stand up. Well I knew that it would soon keel over from heat stroke on that hot day. Heat stroke kills dogs. I used to work in a vet clinic and saw many dogs die of that. I went to the service desk and asked them what to do, but they didn’t seem to have a public address system I guess. So I went up and down the aisles asking everyone I saw if they had a little poodle-type dog in a white sedan, and eventually found the owner. I told him his dog was going to get sick if he didn’t get him out of the heat right away. He wasn’t real friendly, let me tell you. But he did go outside and I guess he must have turned on the air conditioning, because a bit later he found me in the store and thanked me. He said he didn’t realize that he was inside the store for such a long time.
—Kay in Wisconsin